Auction Expectations

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Tango, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I asked a neighbor to let me tag along next time he went to the livestock auction. I'm looking for a Jersey or Guernsey heifer and a couple of steers. Since then, I've had several unexpected emergency expenses and I don't know if I can afford the initial price anymore- the pasture and hay is not a problem. I've never been to an auction and don't know if there are better times of the year to buy. I live in south middle TN and there are auctions all around me. Compared to the prices on the Barter Board, are auction prices about the same? I'm seeing Jersey heifers and Jersey crosses for $900 and up on here- was thinking I could have found one at an auction for less. They were $300 as day -olds in FL. Can anyone give me an idea? I know there are variables but given the same age, same condition would auction prices be less? Thanks.
     
  2. angus_guy

    angus_guy Well-Known Member

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    Where are you in Southern Mid TN ?
     

  3. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Wayne county, close to the Alabama line.
     
  4. Celtic Herritag

    Celtic Herritag Celtic Heritage Farms

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    I wouldnt't go with day olds we call them drop calves up here, not cause the mama just "dropped' them but because the "Drop" like flies. I'd get a weanling or an older more stable calve. It might be cheaper to go with day old calves to start with but once you've lost half your stock ir runs up deficiet pretty fast. Another word of advice look for alertness and health at an auction. Don't get caught up in blood lines or looks (unless your buying for showing) because bloodlines are often lied about even registration papers can be forged. Also treat all sellers at an auction as used car dealers (th slimy kind). They'll drug, sore, drench,and do all kinds of horible things to their animals to get more profit. Not all are like this but most are, better to expect the worst and get the best than to expect the best and get burned.
     
  5. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    it really depends on where you live or more so who lives around you and what kind of calf you want.
    auction price will be the going price for your area. will that be less???? most times yes some times no.
    if you live in a dairy area they will have week old calves all year long. in our area they are more common in the fall because we have winter grass and it is to hot for good milk production in the summer.

    Week old bulls are ok but watch what you buy. i like getting week old bulls because i can control what they eat from day one. go to the auction and watch closely a few times to get the feel of things.
    in my area i think bull calves are $200 each but it has been a few years since i have been. like i said watch a few times and you will see what is the going price.
    DO NOT get suckered into the free or $25 calves. others may notice problems so will not bid.

    heifer calves are a differant story all together. you can buy a breeding age heifer for about what it will cost you to raise her. who cares what she has to eat as long as she is well grown. you are not going to eat her. the problem is you need to watch out for sterial or freemartins that someone can not get breed.
    heifers are also hard to come by which drives up the week old price. a good heifer would be kept by the farmer. very few full breed heifers make it to auction. they are usually bought by someone who raises springers and has contacts to buy straight from the farmer.
    some half breed or cross heifers will be available because the farmer will not want them because of reduced milk production. like a jersey/angus cross.
    i would be looking for a springer if i was looking for a heifer. but be prepaired to pay the bucks. over $1000 is common.
    another good buy is a 3 or 4 year old that has a dry quarter. still plenty of milk for you but no good for a farm. other cull cows can be had cheep. my neighbor bought a good cull cow about 5 or 6 years old that was breed and had just been dryed up. he got lucky and the cow threw a heifer so now he has a cull that will last him a few years till this new full breed calf can come into production.
     
  6. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the advice. My neighbor who is taking me, has a lot of experience with auctions. He goes for fun but does business there and has raised Charolais for many years. His wife has the dairy experience and they were giving me advice. I'm sure they'll help me not make a mistake but I was just wondering about prices. I'll probably buy a Charolais steer and a bull from him next year. Now just need a dairy heifer. Thanks again.
     
  7. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In this area, we are lucky if we get $25 on the high end for a week old, bucket trained, healthy Jersey bull calf through the local sale barn....
    One reason I started selling them myself. No more calves that you have to pay a dolllar for to send tot he sale barn. He was 7/8 Jersey, 1/8 Norwegian Red, two weeks old and bucket trained. The buyer paid $5.00 for him.
    Pay attention to your area is the best advice. There are people who know the sellers and know what stock they produce.
     
  8. angus_guy

    angus_guy Well-Known Member

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    I think in marshall cnty there is a UT Experiment station that raises Jerseys
    But they do not sell heifers Maury county has one also but they raise holsteins here there is also several dairys around here

    Which auction ar you going to giles county 4 weight steers were bringing 1.20-1.30

    kill cows were bringing .50-.60
     
  9. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thanks angus guy. I got the Savannah paper yesterday and saw beef heifers went for $1.20 - $1.30 /lb under 300 pounds this week. No dairy heifers listed. Bull calves were less. I think I'll be able to afford the bull calves but still looking for a dairy cow. My neighbor said to buy one already trained to milk, so I''ll be looking for a seasoned springer.
     
  10. shelbynteg

    shelbynteg Well-Known Member

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    I agree, if you're looking for a heifer, auction will usually work out ok. For cows, I avoid the sale barn, because most of the time you're buying someone else's problems, and or diseases. I would still isolate a heifer and get her tested (particularly if you intend to drink her milk).
     
  11. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Boy did I get those prices wrong. Heifers are $82 for up to 900 lbs. an all the way up to $180 for 300 pounds. I wonder why it back scales like that? Well I'll be looking for a younger experienced cow shelbynteg so I guess I need to stay out of auctions. Makes it hard since I haven't seen the first dairy anything in the classifieds :(
     
  12. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Tango, I'll tell you from experience that most dairy cows that go through the auction barns around here are there for a reason. Lots of them have Johne's and are sold off at auction before they get too skinny so the buyers won't suspect something's wrong. PM me if you want and I'll explain how I know about auctions and sick animals - I'm hesitant to post it here because someone may know the person/people I'm talking about. Even though it's no secret among auction folks and old timers I hate to talk about it in such a public forum. Let me also tell you if your soil gets contaminated with the Johne's bacteria it will be there for a good long time and possibly infect other animals (ruminants) you bring on the place. It's not just older cows from the auction that might have problems either. Young heifers who have been exposed to Johne's often don't show signs until they freshen for the first time then it hits them hard. Imagine the heartbreak of raising a heifer, getting her bred, waiting for her to freshen, then bam - Johne's.
    Your safest bet for a dairy cow is to be patient and try to buy one privately. Try the Mennonites too, you aren't too far from them. When you find one you like offer to pay to have it tested for TB, brucellosis and Johne's before you buy if you have any doubts.
    If you're careful you should be able to buy a cull from a dairy who isn't producing well enough for them (perfect for you, a good producing Jersey will drown you in milk) is older or has maybe lost a quarter to mastitis. Make sure and ask if they test for Johne's. You can contact the dairies who are within your driving distance and tell them what you want and leave your contact info. Call back and remind them once in awhile too, they're incredibly busy and might forget you when it's time to cull cows. Most dairy owners would rather sell a marginal cow to an individual than run it through the barn because it's almost guaranteed it will go to slaughter if sold through the barn as most people know to stay away from them.
    Sorry if I'm being a downer, just trying to share some of our hard won experience (yes, we've bought Johne's cows in the past - 2 of them, ugh)and help you avoid a problem.
    I tried to warn another person on this forum that the cow they were looking to buy looked suspicious for Johne's (I saw a pic) and to have her checked out/tested before they brought her home. They didn't. Now they have Johne's on their place.
    Look on http://www.jerseydirectory.com/?=UnitedStates/States/TN/ to find some Jersey dairies in your area.
    Good luck finding a cow! I LOVE Jerseys, we have 3 of them right now. Along with Dexters, beef cows and several cross breds.
     
  13. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    what is johnes disease?
    what is freemartin?
     
  14. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Johne's is a wasting disease found in ruminants. The biggest issue with it is that it lays dormant for a couple of years and is shed through fecal matter and milk...so you have a heifer calf, she grows up, joins your herd, you feed the calves with that milk and you spread that manure on your fields and all of a sudden you've infected your entire farm...At least that is what we were told.

    However, it is not nearly as much of a death sentence as it sounds like for the herd. For the postive animal, yes, it is a death sentence. Dad always figured if we ever got a positive he would have to quit farming. Every farm in this area has had one or two positives in the past ten years. Lots of theories on the cause of Johne's, but in this ase it is probably some traveling salesman that spread it.
    We've dealt with Johne's. Our youngest positive was 20 months old..however, they were unable to duplicate the test at all and only found one colony..most likely human error, but back then you didn't have the option to fight it like you do now. If we had the option to fight it we probably could have saved five animals that we don't beleive were actually positive.
    Johne's information

    A freemartin is a sterile heifer. Usually a heifer calf born twin to a bull calf. The twins share blood from the umbilical cord and as the male develops and the testosterone is moving througout the fetus is goes through the bloodstream. It goes into the developing heifer fetus (which develop later I believe) and interfers with her reproductive development. She may look normal but is actually sterlie. A very small percentage...like less than 7% at this point, I believe, of heifers born twin to a bull are actually fertile.



    Edited to add: All of our Johne's positive and Johne's suspect cattle were sent with Slaughter Orders. If on test, I believe it is a requirement that the positive aniamls go with slaughter orders. We've tested negative two years in a row now and if we had the option three years ago to challenge the findings we would have on the four. One of them was 13 years old and had tested negative the past 8 years of her life...They were exposed to Fanfare who did die of Johne's and their bodies probably made a few anitbodies because of it. We test again this Friday. Year three. We assume we will be negative again.
     
  15. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Woodspirit, you were accusing me of being inexperienced/ignorant on another thread, yet you don't know what Johne's is or what freemartins are? Uhhh ...OKAY! :baby04:

    Tango, you got some good advice here, particularly from Paula.

    I would suspect any dairy heifer going through a regular auction is gonna be a freemartin. Heck, a friend of mine bought a Jersey heifer from a farmer she knew (not close friend, but still) and it turned out to be sterile ... I highly suspect it may have been a freemartin and the farmer neglected to share that critical bit of info. Hmmmmm! :grump:

    You may have a little better luck at a dairy sale, but calves are rather rare there. You may be able to get a nice springer, or at least a heifer already bred, though.

    If I were in your shoes, and didn't know any farmers well enough to trust getting a decent cow from, I'd look for a dairy sale that is a whole-herd dispersal. Now, here you have the good, the bad and ugly, all up for grabs. You can be reasonably assured that a cow coming off a commercial dairy has been tested for TB. Johnes is another story! If a herd is Johnes-free I would think it would be marketed as such; good selling point. If it's not, I think you can safely assume there MAY be Johne's present. Stay away from cows that look obviously sick, emaciated, or otherwise unthrifty. You don't need to buy the best cow at the sale, but certainly stay away from the worst ones. A 3-teat cow will be less valuable to the commercial dairyman but in most cases will be fine for you. Unless you know how to do AI or know somebody that does or who has a bull, look for a cow that is already bred. Very often at a dairy dispersal, the seller will have the entire herd preg-checked just prior to the sale, and/or Ovsynch all open cows and breed them so they are at least short-bred at sale time, as a bred cow (rightfully) will bring more money than an open one. Do not assume, if you are getting a short-bred cow (that is, a cow that has been bred, but it's too soon to tell whether she's pregnant) that it's a given that she has settled (conceived). Have her vet-checked ASAP (based on the breeding date) just to be sure.

    Oh, one final word of caution -- usually the sale barn will sell some cows from other dairies on consignment at a herd dispersal sale. Stay away from these cows! You can bet they are there for a reason -- either low production, health problems or sheer orneryness. And you won't know which is the reason 'til you get her home! The one exception MAY be heifers, as some farms, particularly smaller ones, may occasionally have surplus heifers, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and even in this case you can be assured they are culling the least promising.